Thursday, April 2, 2009

Governor's call to arms on global warming

Paul Austin 
The Age, April 2, 2009

GOVERNOR David de Kretser has urged Victorians to build smaller homes, stop drinking bottled water and wear more clothes in winter to reduce energy consumption and help save the planet.

In a call to arms on global warming, the Governor says Victorians need to change their behaviour and lower their aspirations because "our lifestyles are unsustainable".

Professor de Kretser, who turned off the lights at Government House during Earth Hour on Saturday night, says that as a scientist he believes the evidence is overwhelming of a link between global warming and man-made increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

He says that even if there is a small degree of uncertainty about the link between human activity and climate change, all people and governments must take urgent action because "the consequences of inaction are disastrous".

In a speech to Rotary leaders in Melbourne, Professor de Kretser called on Victorians to:

?Build smaller homes to reduce energy consumption. "Do we need such large houses when the average family size has declined? Do we need individual tennis courts with lights? What happened to our sense of community?"

?Stop drinking bottled water. "Did you know that Melbourne has one of the purest water supplies in the world, yet we have a vast use of bottled water? It takes 200 millilitres of oil to make the bottle and get it to you to drink. Is this a sensible and sustainable use of oil, a finite resource? Do take a close look at all you do."

?Wear more clothes in winter and turn up air-conditioner thermostats during summer to reduce the amount of energy used to warm and cool houses and office buildings.

?Leave the car at home and instead either walk, cycle or use public transport for short trips.

Professor de Kretser, who has overseen a 20 per cent cut in energy consumption at Government House after commissioning a sustainability audit when he came to office three years ago, is also calling on businesses to turn off non-essential lighting.

"Each night, the view from Government House shows countless burning lights in city buildings in unoccupied rooms," he said. "We could save large sums of money if these lights were turned off, and considerable energy savings and reduced greenhouse gas emissions would result.

"What's more, measures such as this, implemented across the community, could even delay the need for additional power stations for a period of time until cleaner technologies became available."

Professor de Kretser rejects calls for the fight against global warming to be postponed because of the economic crisis.

"Which is more important: a reversible economic downturn, or a progressive warming of the global environment resulting in irretrievable losses of the biodiversity of this planet and which threatens the survival of many human beings?"

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